A few weeks ago, I had the chance to visit Laughlin, Nevada. My father had flown out for a visit, and that was where he was staying. Laughlin is a great little town, right on the edge of the Colorado River, and is on the very edge of Nevada, across the river from Bullhead City, Arizona. The big attraction for Laughlin is that it’s a place with casinos, fairly nice hotels, a great view of the river, great restaurants, and almost none of the traffic of Las Vegas, or the crowds, and a fraction of the price.
The biggest difference from las Vegas is that a majority of the visitors are older. Like past retirement older. This gives the entire town an older air. It doesn’t help that some of the casinos were built decades ago, and haven’t been renovated. But the real draw is the casino, not the hotel rooms. So, due to the older clientèle, there is a much more relaxed pace to Laughlin, versus Las Vegas. Now that could be explained by the difference between a small city, and a large metropolis, and that argument is valid. Reno has the title of the “Biggest Little Town”, but Laughlin is just a little town, and it feels like it – even with all the money the casinos draw in, the town feels a little dilapidated, and worn.
That being said, the Outback Steakhouse in the Aquarius Hotel, was very nice.
When my father and I got there, it was busy. Like super busy. There was an hour wait, before being seated. I mean, it was Saturday night at 7:00pm, so I guess we had to expect that. However, my father being my father, convinced the hostess that he really had made a reservation for two at 7:00pm. Since he’s in his 70’s, and looks and sounds like the sweet college professor he is, they accommodated us, and got us sat in the bar, within 5 minutes. It was a compromise, as we could have sat ourselves there if we really wanted. The lead hostess presented it as a solution, which for us it was, and we gladly accepted a corner table.
Our waitress was friendly, if not busy. She took the time to joke around with us, and give us a hard time, which is always appreciated at my table. She had just the right amount of flirt and fight mixed in, to really make her service delightful. Add to the fact that she was prompt, and like most Outback’s, she had the support of her fellow servers.
We started with a half order of Bloomin’ Onions. Not only is the restaurant famous for it’s onion appetizer, not only were my father and I bordering on starvation, but the half order was perfect for just the two of us. Plus, I love the Bloomin’ Onion sauce they serve with it.
After the appetizer, I received my salad (instead of a potato). Nothing special about the salad, pretty typical fare at any restaurant you could find. Add on the small loaf of bread, and it’s like any steakhouse across the USA. Not to say the bread wasn’t good (and devoured), or that the salad was terrible. But nothing special.
However, the main course was outstanding. I’ve been to steak houses plenty over the years. I’ve cooked endless steaks on my own grill, and had friends make them for me. This one hit every note I wanted.
I had the steak. perfectly seared outside, perfectly cooked to medium rare, and perfectly seasoned. I didn’t need steak sauce for this baby (but I do love steak sauce). I cut into it, and the juice nearly sprayed me in the face like a grapefruit. It was fantastic. I ate slowly, enjoying every bite, savoring every morsel.
My father had the ribs. They were so tender, they fell off the bone. He couldn’t even use his hands to eat them, he had to use a fork, due to how tender they were. I am assuming that he enjoyed it, because after the food was served, we spent a good 20 minutes in complete silence.
The following evening, we tried a different steak house, in nearby Kingman, Arizona. I’ll save the review for another day, but comparing the two restaurants, two days in a row like that, it’s easy to see who the clear winner is.
I’m normally against corporate chains, and feel they often value savings over service. That was not the case in Laughlin, on that Saturday night. I’ve had Outback before, but I do not remember it being this good.
If one of the few things your town has going for it is restaurants, like Laughlin, I would suggest all the other restaurants follow their lead. They got it right, and I will be back, because they were amazing.